Pro-life display compares abortion to Holocaust, Rwandan genocide

Some students said they were offended by an anti-abortion exhibit on display at the University of Manitoba (U of M), which compared abortion to the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide.

The display, which ran Sept. 23-25, was organized and supported by the student group University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life, and approved with no problems by the university administration, the group said.

“We view abortion as a very grave injustice against people that are not able to defend themselves,” Cara Ginter, one of the organizers of the group, said.

Ginter said the display is not meant to draw a direct correlation between genocide and abortion.

“We’re looking at what is happening and why it’s happening,” she said. “The brutality of the weakest of our species is being denied by those in power . . . which is exactly what has happened in past genocides.”

The display was not removed by the administration despite petitions presented by the student union, according to Al Turnbull, president of the University of Manitoba Students’ Union. He said there were signs posted around the display warning incomers of the sensitive content, along with a contact number where students could complain if they were offended.

The U of M Students’ Union said it received more than 20 complaints regarding the display, although they were told to direct all complaints to the university’s administration directly.

“The message was very clear,” Turnbull said. He said the display equated lynching, racism, and genocide with abortion.

“Terms like the Holocaust and genocide are being thrown around really loosely,” he said. “The only thing we can do is counter-protest.”

Turnbull said in order to gain approval for the display, the group avoided the students’ union and went directly through the university administration.

John Danakas, director of U of M’s marketing communications office, said the administration received seven complaints about the exhibit.

“It’s not always an easy balance between keeping a respectful work environment and freedom of speech,” Danakas said.

He said the university is “committed to a respectful work and learning policy” and is still in the process of collecting complaint messages from various departments.

Danakas said the complaints they received will help the university manage an exhibit like this should its organizers ask for the opportunity to display it again.

Lorne Geller, a third-year Carleton student and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, said he thinks the display is “incredibly offensive.”

“The depths of what Holocaust survivors went through are not even in the same conversation as abortion,” Geller said.